Army ranks is a military term used to identify the level of command. The Army ranks are broken down into three levels: Enlisted Ranks, Warrant Officer Ranks, and Officer Ranks.
This article will go through the Army Corps Rank system in depth so you may better grasp what it means for your career, how it’s determined, and what each rank means. It also covers the Army Corps of Engineers and why they should be taken into account while considering military duty.
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Enlisted Soldiers are considered the backbone of the Army. They train in a particular job and utilize the skills within their unit. They properly perform their job functions, and their knowledge ensures the success of their unit’s mission within the Army.
Enlisted ranks are broken down into three groups: Junior Enlisted (E-1 through E-4, NCOs (E-4 through E-6), and Senior NCOs (E-7 through E-9). The sequence of ranks for Enlisted Soldiers are as follows:
Private is the lowest enlisted rank during basic training. This rank does not carry insignia on the uniform.
After completing Basic Combat Training, almost all soldiers receive the rank of Private Second Class. This is the first promotion for the majority of enlisted soldiers after completing basic training, or they will get promoted after serving six months in the Army. The soldier will perform the skills and knowledge acquired to their new job. They will also follow orders from higher-ranking supervisors.
Private First Class (E-3)
Within a year, soldiers will typically be promoted to Private First Class. Soldiers holding this rank are important to this branch. They are known as the backbone and workforce strength of the Army. E3 is the key that soldiers will begin to transition to carry out orders and complete their missions.
Specialist/ Corporal (E-4)
Specialists and Corporals are both E-4, but Specialists have fewer responsibilities than Corporals. While specialists are put in charge of lower-ranked enlisted soldiers, a soldier can be promoted to this rank after serving two years and after completing a training class. Service members with a four-year degree may enter basic training as a specialist.
Sergeants are supposed to be efficient leaders. They are the keys to making missions happen. They guide the junior enlisted in order to ensure the mission is done properly and according to the orders from the higher-ranking authorities. Sergeants oversee junior soldiers in their day-to-day tasks and are considered to set a good example as an NCO (Non-commissioned officer).
Staff Sergeant (E-6)
Generally speaking, staff sergeants and sergeants have similar duties and responsibilities, but in fact, E6s will be in daily contact with a larger amount of soldiers and generally have more equipment and property to maintain. The E6s will also have one or more sergeants who are under their direct leadership. They will also be responsible for the continual development of their soldiers’ full range of potential.
Senior Non-Commissioned Officers
There is no minimum time-in-grade (TIG) requirement for promotion to the Army SNCO ranks, but candidates must meet the following minimum time-in-service (TIS) requirements to be eligible for promotion:
- Sergeant first class (E-7) – six years.
- Master sergeant/first sergeant (E-8) – eight years.
- Sergeant major (E-9) – nine years.
Sergeant First Class (E-7)
This rank normally means the soldier has 15 to 18 years of military experience. This level is now considered as a senior NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer). Their duty entails being the key assistant and advisor to the platoon leader. They have to make quick and accurate decisions for the mission at hand.
Master Sergeant (E-8)
The Master Sergeant is supposed to be the principal non-commissioned officer at the battalion level (or higher). While they do not have the same roles and responsibilities as the First Sergeant, they are supposed to lead with the same duties as a First Sergeant.
First Sergeant (E-8)
The First Sergeant is the principal NCO and is often known as the life-blood of a company. His responsibility is to discipline and counsel the soldiers in his unit. The first sergeant has the duty to conduct formations, instructs platoon sergeants, advises the Commander of the unit, and assists in training for the enlisted soldiers. When mentioning this rank, they are not called “Sergeant,” but “First Sergeant.”
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Sergeant Major (E-9)
Sergeant Majors’s professionalism is the chief administrative assistant for an Army headquarters. They are vital members in staff elements at battalion level or higher. Their experience and abilities are similar to command sergeant majors, but they are limited to leading those that are directly under his charge.
Command Sergeant Major (E-9)
Command Sergeant Major is known as the enlisted advisor to the commanding officer. Their jobs are carrying out policies and standards and help in advising the commander. They advise and initiate recommendations to the commander and staff in regards to the support and well-being of the company.
Sergeant Major of the Army (E-9)
There is one and only Sergeant Major of the entire Army. The E9 oversees all non-commissioned officers and serves as the senior enlisted advisor and consults the Chief of Staff of the Army.
Army Ranks – Warrant Officer Ranks
Warrant Officers are known as adaptive technical experts, combat leaders, trainers, and advisors. They hold warrants from their service secretary and they specialize in particular military technologies or capabilities. They acquire their authority from the same source as commissioned officers, but they are referred to as specialists, compared to commissioned officers, who are considered generalists. The sequence of ranks for Warrant Officers are as follows:
Warrant Officer 1 (WO1)
Warrant officers are considered the tactical and technical experts of the Army. WO1 is the base-level rank, and primarily supports operations from a team or detachment through a battalion.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 (CW2)
This rank is considered an intermediate-level technical and tactical expert. Their responsibility is to support levels of operations from team or detachment through a battalion.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 (CW3)
This rank is considered as an advanced-level technical and tactical expert. Their role is to support operations from a team/detachment through a brigade.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 (CW4)
This rank is considered as a senior-level technical and tactical expert. Their primary duty is to support brigade, battalion, division, and corps operations.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 (CW5)
This rank is considered a master-level technical and tactical expert. Their primary duties include supporting brigade, division, corps, echelons, and command operations. They specialize in warrant officer leadership and representation responsibilities within their respective commands.
Commissioned officers are known as the managers, problem solvers, key influencers, and planners in the Army. So, apparently, they hold the highest ranks. They lead enlisted soldiers in all situations. Their duties include planning missions, giving orders, and assigning soldiers tasks to complete missions.
Army officer ranks are in three tiers: company grade (O-1 to O-3), field grade (O-4 to O-6), and general (O-7 and above). The sequence of ranks for Commissioned Officers are as follows
Second Lieutenant/2LT (O1)
Service members of this rank are addressed as “Lieutenant.” This is the entry-level rank for the majority of Commissioned Officers in the Army. Their job consists of leading a platoon(s), which initiates leadership training they will need throughout their military career.
First Lieutenant/1LT (O2)
Service members of this rank are also addressed as “Lieutenant.” This rank is considered a seasoned lieutenant normally with 18 to 24 months of service. As a senior Lieutenant, members will be looked at for the position of Executive Officer (XO) of a company (consisting of between 100 to 200 soldiers).
Service members of this rank are addressed as “Captain.” Captains will be put in charge of and control a company (between 100 to 200 soldiers). Other jobs include becoming an instructor at a service school or becoming a Staff Officer at a battalion level.
Service members of this rank are addressed as “Major.” Majors are considered field grade officers, and they serve as primary Staff officers for the brigade. They are also part of task force command in regards to personnel, logistical and operational missions.
Lieutenant Colonel/LTC (O5)
Service members of this rank are addressed as “Lieutenant Colonel” or “Colonel.” At this rank, they are put in charge of battalion-sized units (can range between 400 to 1,000 soldiers). During this time, they can also be looked at for brigade and task force Executive Officer.
Service members at this rank are referred to as “Colonel.” They normally are put in charge of and command brigades (between 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers). Another responsibility at this rank will be becoming the chief of divisional-level staff agencies.
Brigadier General/BG (O7)
Service members at this rank are addressed as “General.” They serve as the Deputy Commander to the commanding general for Army divisions. They will assist in coordinating and planning missions for the Army.
Major General/MG (O8)
Service members at this rank are addressed as “General” (or two-star). Will typically command a division unit (10,000 to 15,000 soldiers).
Lieutenant General (O9)
Addressed as “General” (or three-star). Their main job typically consists of commanding corps-size units (20,000 to 45,000 soldiers).
Addressed as “General” (or four-star). This is a senior-level Commissioned Officer that has over 30 years of military experience. At this rank, they command all operations that fall under their geographical area. The Chief of Staff of the Army is a four-star General.
General of the Army (GOA)
This is a rank that is only used during the time of war. The Commanding Officer must be equal or of higher rank than the opposing commanding armies from other nations. The last officer to hold this rank was during and after WWII.
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